Sunday, August 08, 2010

“Bank On Me Going Green(dot)

Banks suck. Few would argue that banks, and the corporate greed of high ranking banking officials is a large part of why our economy is so fucked right now. I'm not here to argue a political point. My beef with banks, and banking, is of a more personal nature. Namely, the policies under which personal deposits to checking accounts are governed. Bank deposit policies are bullshit (sorry if it seems I'm channeling Penn Jillette). In recent weeks I've had issues with deposits I've made not showing as available when checking my account online. Who the fuck, and at which bank, decided that the business day ends at 2PM? Furthermore, what's the point of having drop boxes to create the “convenience” of not having to stand in line, if the damn thing isn't checked regularly enough and therefore creates an inconvenience when it comes to a person's hard earned money being available to them? I'll explain.

I work for a small business. As such, I don't have access to services such as direct deposit. I have to physically take my paycheck to the bank, fill out the deposit slip and stand in line to have a teller process my deposit. For decades banks have decided that 2pm is actually the next business day. That is to say, if you make a deposit after 2pm on Monday, it's actually not deposited until Tuesday. What makes this a bullshit concept is, if it's a Friday afternoon, your deposit won't be credited until Monday because Saturday and Sunday aren't “business days”. Now, to top all that off, in the past couple of weeks I've made deposits late in the afternoon on a Thursday only to not have them show as available until after midnight on Friday (so basically, not until Saturday). This past Friday really took the cake though. It was around 4:15pm. I was hot, tired and just wanted to get home (a commute of about an hour or more depending on traffic, for me). So, when I saw how long the line was in the bank, I decided to use their “convenient” drop box since I was only depositing and not getting any cash back this time. I filled out the deposit slip and the envelope, endorsed the back of the check, put everything in the envelope and dropped it in the box and went on my merry way home for the weekend. Saturday morning, my balance still showed $26. I kept checking every so often, and still no sign of my deposit. Now, here's the kicker – the branch I went to is actually open half a day on Saturdays, so I gave them a call. I figured, since they were open on Saturday, someone would have taken anything in the drop box out and processed it. Evidently, that's not the case. Since I put it in the box so late on a Friday, and because it was a check drawn on a different bank instead of cash, that money won't be available until Tuesday! Tuesday?! Fucking really? You mean I have to survive the weekend, plus put gas in my car to get to work on Monday with only the $15 in my wallet, the $40 I have squirreled away in my change jar and the measly $26 I still have available in my checking account? WTF? Normally I'd only be annoyed, but this is a special weekend. I had planned on taking my beautiful, wonderful fiancee out to a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants since Thursday was her birthday, and Friday was the anniversary of our engagement.1 Now, not only can I not do that, but I can't even go get any of the hobby supplies I wanted to get so I can enjoy a weekend of painting Warhammer models.2 “Well, switch banks”, you may say. To what end? They all do stupid shit like this. No, I think I have a better plan.

With all this bullshit with banks I'm seriously considering becoming an almost straight cash person. Frankly, I've always hated carrying cash and preferred to use my check card, because 1) it's convenient, 2) it makes me more responsible about impulse and large purchases because I have to bear in mind how much is actually in the bank and 3) if I lose my card, it can be replaced; if I lose my cash, I'm just shit-out-of-luck and broke. Enter GreenDot. GreenDot is a prepaid credit card. Here's they way this thing works. I can go get a GreenDot credit card with either a Visa or MasterCard logo on it so it's accepted wherever either of those cards are accepted. If it's lost, I can have it replaced and I don't lose my balance. I can control how much is on it at any given time because it's prepaid, meaning the balance on the card is just like the balance in my checking account; whatever I put on it, is what is available for use. So, I could keep the majority of my cash, and just load up a GreenDot card with as much as I need to still be able to do online purchases and bill paying. I know for a fact (since I used to work at one) that I can go into any RadioShack and re-load it, and whatever I put on it is immediately available for use (no bullshit next business day before the funds are available crap). Now, I do understand that this plan isn't perfect. For starters, despite that fact that I'm really pissed at my bank right now, I do have to admit that I get free checking and I can use my debit card all I need/want to with no fees (save for, of course, overdraft fees if I spend more than my balance). With GreenDot there will be a start-up fee and there will be a reload fee when I load it with cash and probably a monthly maintenance fee depending on my balance or how much I've used it (however, there is no fee for direct depositing funds to a GreenDot card should I ever find a job that offers that). The plan isn't ideal, and honestly I may very well keep the bank account open with a nominal balance, depositing cash when/if needs be. I'm just tired of going through entire weekends with very limited funds available to me because of banks' dubious deposit procedures and policies. It's just nice knowing that I at least have the option of a prepaid credit/debit card without having to deal with a bank's bullshit while still being able to pay my bills or make purchases online.

~ JC

1. Seven years... yes, I know that's a long time to be engaged, but it works for us, so :-P

2. I really wanted to get an inexpensive airbrush so I could batch paint the base coats on several at one time and quickly. Good thing I already have some prepped – not to mention I have tons of reading to catch up on. But still, it's really annoying when you make plans for your weekend and they get fucked up because of banking issues that you can't control. Also, for the record, my fiancee paid for dinner and I'll reimburse her once my deposit posts – it's just pretty shitty that she had to pay for her own birthday dinner that was supposed to be my gift to her.

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